The college football world was stunned when it was learned that Steve Spurrier was stepping down as coach at the University of South Carolina and that the move would happen immediately instead of waiting until the end of the season.
Prior to Spurrier addressing the media, university president Harris Pastides said he tried to convince Spurrier to stay until the season was over but that the Head Ball Coach, as Spurrier is known, had made up his mind.
Spurrier addressed the issue with a statement, but not before clarifying that he is resigning, and not retiring, as it was originally reported on Monday.
“First of all, I’m resigning,” Spurrier said. “I’m not retiring. Let’s get that part straight. I doubt if I’ll ever be a head coach again, but maybe coaching a high school team or something.”
As for why he is resigning, Spurrier said that he has always been adamant that he would coach as long as things were going well. “But if it starts going south, if it starts going bad, I need to get out,” Spurrier said.
Spurrier then went on to address criticism of his decision to bail on the team in the middle of a season, a 2-4 season that will go down as just his second losing record in 26 years as a head coach in college football.
“When something is inevitable, I believe you do it right then,” Spurrier told the media. “You don’t wait a week. You don’t wait two weeks. This has to happen, let’s do it and let’s get started in a new direction. That’s what we hope to do today.”
Earlier, Spurrier explained in a refreshing candor not often heard from head football coaches, that he was hurting the program and that by going now, the sooner the school could start their next chapter.
“I find that [coaching until the end of the season] doesn’t work out a lot. If the players know that you are not going to be the coach after such-and-such a time, you just don’t have the accountability, I think. And also, it gives us a chance to hire an interim head coach … gives him a chance to make his mark for these next six games. And I think the team needs to hear a new message, a new voice, from another coach, and [interim coach Sean Elliot] is going to do that … it gives us a little time to start rebuilding. Yesterday I was sort of a recruiting liability. It is hard to recruit when your coach has done it a long time and at a certain age the recruits want to know that guy is going to be there 5-10 years from now. With a new coach here, I really think it is going to pick up recruiting … this is the best thing for South Carolina football, for our university to start another building process.”
Spurrier later explained that he first thought about resigning when the Gamecocks were 2-2 and struggling against teams they don’t typically struggle against.